Youth cafés: creating youth-friendly spaces

Photo by Farzad Mohsenvand on Unsplash

Providing physical spaces where young people feel valued and empowered is essential to positive youth development.

Safe spaces for youth should be places where young people can come together to express themselves and engage in decision-making processes that impact their lives. Youth should have an active and on-going role in creating a youth-friendly space, including guidelines, safety protocols, atmospheres, activities, and so forth. Continue reading “Youth cafés: creating youth-friendly spaces”

On youth work and bullshit jobs

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

Before I was fairly educated and passionate about social change, I was the almost-all-encompassing poster child for Canada’s oppressed and marginalized group: A young, poor immigrant black girl living in one of Toronto’s priority neighbourhoods.

Fast forward a few years and post-secondary education, I was elated to have stumbled into the field of youth work. It felt amazing to find a career in uplifting young people, like myself a few years prior, who would otherwise be left to struggle in the margins of society.

In the deepest part of my heart I believed that since youth work wasn’t the most lucrative field, people would get into it purely because of the passion they felt for the work itself. I was excited to be around passionate individuals putting all their efforts into revolutionary social change.

Boy, was I wrong. Continue reading “On youth work and bullshit jobs”

From tokenism to authentic youth engagement


Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Youth engagement has gained momentum in many fields that work closely with young people, including youth programs and services, youth organizations, schools, and other institutions working to help young people thrive.

Youth-focused organizations thrive to implement youth engagement practices that capture the voice of young people they serve. While it is important to recognize the importance of youth engagement, the issue of youth tokenism remains an important issue in the field of youth work. Continue reading “From tokenism to authentic youth engagement”

What gets measured, gets managed: Program evaluation for youth work

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

A while ago, I was catching up with a good friend of mine, and during our mutual vent-session over the frustration we feel about the youth sector, she mentioned something I found puzzling.

Some key youth organizations in the community were opposed to evaluation practices to assess their youth programs and services, even when the opportunities to do so were available. Not surprisingly, some of these programs were not doing so well, although they have been running for a decade or so.

Often times, it can be easy to assume that if we make services and programs available to support young people, these programs would be effective and impactful. This is not always true.

Other times, it is easy to become attached to the program, or the funding, or our own ego, and we do not want to find out that our program is not as effective as we thought.  

A youth program that is committed to youth wellbeing, however, is reflective, willing to improve, change and grow and diligently ensures that its youth participants are experiencing the outcomes that the program is working towards.

If we value the youth and communities that we serve, we must be open systematically evaluating the outcomes and usefulness of our programs and services. Continue reading “What gets measured, gets managed: Program evaluation for youth work”